EXCLUSIVE: Rent's Anthony Rapp Has Full Plate with Directing Gig and New Solo Show

News   EXCLUSIVE: Rent's Anthony Rapp Has Full Plate with Directing Gig and New Solo Show
Jonathan Larson's Rent not only catapulted Anthony Rapp to international fame, but it has also led to his latest stage project, directing the workshop of Caren Tackett's Born Blue, which will be presented April 26 at Touch New York City.

Anthony Rapp
Anthony Rapp Photo by Aubrey Reuben

"Caren was in Rent with me on Broadway when I did it with Adam [Pascal] again, and then she just did the tour with us," Rapp told Playbill.com. "A little over a year ago, she . . . presented songs and little moments from her show for those of us in the [tour]. It was actually while we were in Philadelphia, so it was early on in the tour. I talked about it afterwards, and I said to her, 'There are some really exciting things about this,' and shared some feedback, and a little bit later in the tour, she came to me and she said, 'Would you be interested in being a little more involved?' And I said, 'Well, sure, possibly, depending on when and where,' and the timing just worked out really well."

Born Blue, according to its author, is "not just an exploration of the cycles of fear and prejudice regarding sex, race, sexual orientation and organized religion. It's also my own life experience told in metaphor and myth." The score, according to its director, is "very R&B, funk, pop, folk, rock-influenced. I mean, it's not at all traditional musical theatre, which is right up my alley."

Rapp, who directed a few Off-Off-Broadway productions when he first came to New York and was featured in Six Degrees of Separation, said directing "is something that I've always been interested in, but because it takes a tremendous amount of energy and time, I really only want to pursue projects that I really am drawn to or excited by because I don't want to just pad my resume with directing gigs just to direct. . . I want to do things that I feel I have something to contribute [to] and that speak to me."

"This is a piece that's taking risks in story telling and in subject matter," Rapp continued. "To me, that's very exciting, but you never know exactly how that's going to work until you have it up on its feet, and you have to see how people connect to it." Rapp said that auditions for the workshop were especially exciting. "There are a couple young performers that I believe are true discoveries," he explained. "I am thrilled. When they left the room after their auditions, we were like, 'We feel like we've just seen superstars!' I mean, you never know, of course, but I just think that's really exciting. And, that's one of the things that's great about being on the other side of the table. If in some small way, if this experience can help open doors for these incredibly talented people who have not yet had their break, if this can be one little step on their ladder, I'd be thrilled to have been a part of that for them."

The singing actor also said that he is continuing to work on his new solo show, Without You, a stage adaptation of his best-selling memoir of the same title. The show, he says, "is a mixture [of] storytelling and song, and the music is a mixture of songs from Rent — most of which are [performed in] little snippets or pieces — and then original stuff. A couple of the songs were written for the show specifically, and then a couple things were from my album before that were written about my mom — the show so much centers around my mom's death, which happened during the time of being in Rent. So some of those songs I had already written, but then they just slotted right into the show. And when I say, 'I wrote,' I wrote with a couple great people." "We're trying to figure our exactly when and where to do [Without You] again," Rapp added. "It's definitely going to happen, we're just trying to figure out the best place and time to have the best opportunity that we can. We're in the process of talking to producers about when and where and all that stuff."

Although Rapp said the recent Rent tour will likely be the last time he steps into the role of filmmaker Mark Cohen — "I can't imagine another circumstance in which it would make sense" — he said the recent tour was another wonderful experience. "It was amazing to come back to it, and it just continues to enrich our lives as performers and the lives of audiences. The response was incredible across the country and in Japan and Korea. I just am incredibly lucky and blessed to have been a part of it for all these years and that it continues to enrich all of our lives."


Touch New York City is located at 252 W. 52nd Street. Tickets for Born Blue are available by visiting www.smarttix.com or by calling (212) 868-4444. Ticket prices are $50 general admission or $250 for VIP tickets; a limited number of standing room only tickets will be available at the door for $20 — cash only, one ticket per person.

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